After watching Ohio State fight their way back from a 10-point deficit on Saturday night to beat Northwestern by a score of 40-30, it started to become clear that their road to the National Championship is getting easier by the minute. The reason comes down to the fact that the Buckeyes are extremely efficient on both sides of the ball, and that will let them cruise through an extremely lenient schedule during the second half of the season.
On the offensive side of the ball, Ohio State has scored an astounding 46.8 points per game so far in 2013, with an extremely balanced attack leading the way. Throughout 2013, the Buckeyes have ran for an average of 280.7 yards per game and rushed for 212.2 yards per game.
This mixture has ensured that even when one unit is not playing their best, such as quarterback Braxton Miller for much of the Northwestern game, that the team does not lose the possession battle and get knocked out of games.
Meanwhile on the defensive end of the ball, Ohio State has allowed 19.2 points per game, an astounding 27.7-point difference from their offensive output, which magnifies the stretch between the Buckeyes and the rest of the Big Ten. While this low point total is somewhat aided by the lackluster competition that the team has and will continue to face in 2013, the facts are that Ohio State has a group of ball hawks on defense.
This was never more evident than on Saturday night, as on a few occasions Ohio State kept Northwestern from scoring when they started with great field positions and late in the fourth quarter they forced Kain Colter to momentarily fumble on a fourth-and-1 that kept him from picking up a crucial first down.
In terms of scheduling, it is easy to see that Ohio State’s last game of the season, when they travel to Michigan, should be the only game that is remotely challenging the rest of the way. None of the five teams – Iowa, Penn State, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana – that they play before going to Michigan are ranked in the top-25, and chances are that the team’s second and third team units will pick up some valuable game experience in each game.
With an offensive and defensive unit that are both the best in the Big Ten and a schedule that provides few tough matches over the rest of the season, the only thing standing between Ohio State and a berth in the National Championship Game is a meeting with Michigan and the Big 10 championship game.